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Old 08-17-2010, 07:53 PM   #16
Goldie05 OP
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Day 7 - Lake Tahoe to Manteca

Day 7 - Lake Tahoe to Manteca


We leave the Lake Tahoe area early in the morning and head south still on Highway 50 through the Eldorado National Forest until we catch route 89 and head south towards Alpine Village. The road snakes through the mountains on a very scenic and picturesque route and we stop various times to admire and take photos. We cross Mount Bullion and continue East on 89, the road at about 6000 feet following the contours of the mountains. The scenery overwhelms the senses with it's beauty, a green valley below offering a beautiful contrast with a deep blue sky above us and with the tips of the mountains still sprinkled with snow, a postcard scene for sure.









Towards the end of route 89 we cross Monitor Pass (8314ft) and as we approach our next turn into 395 South, we descend from the top of the mountain through a terrain that appeared to have been devastated by a huge fire storm. The terrain went from forestry to rocky and desolate in a few miles but as we get to the bottom and make a right on 395 and continue south, the valley in front of us is green with beautiful pastures where we see hundreds of cows grazing. We stop at the Shingle Mill area by the river in the Toiyabe National Forest to rest and cool our feet in the cold water. Mom always said, don't go in the water with your shoes, but she didn't come with us. I wasn't afraid to step into the water, besides the riding boots are waterproof and with the temperature in the 90's it felt good stepping on the immersed stones and cool my feet.








We continue south passing farms and grazing fields along the way, past the Bridgeport Reservoir and then climb a few more mountains until we crest and see the beautiful Mono Lake in front and below us. We stop at the top of the mountain to take pictures and let our brain digest the beautiful scenery. From the top of the mountain the cars on the road below looked like busy ants going about their business, we would soon join them after a long and twisty descent.



















We move on down the road towards the edge of Lake Mono, an alkaline and hyper saline lake in Mono County, California. Mono Lake is believed to have formed at least 760,000 years ago, dating back to the Long Valley eruption. Sediments located below the ash layer hint that Mono Lake could be a remnant of a larger and older lake that once covered a large part of Nevada and Utah, making it among the oldest lakes in North America. The hypersalinity and high alkalinity of the lake, means that no fish are native to the lake. The lake is famous for the Mono Lake brine shrimp, Artemia monica, a tiny species of brine shrimp, no bigger than a thumbnail, that are found nowhere else on earth. During the warmer summer months, an estimated 4-6 trillion brine shrimp inhabit the lake. Alkali flies (Ephydra hians) live along the shores of the lake and walk underwater encased in small air bubbles to graze and to lay eggs. By March the lake is "as green as pea soup" with photosynthesizing algae. The whole food chain of the lake is based on the high population of single-celled algae present in the warm shallow waters. I walk around the edge of the lake admiring the formation of the rocks and the sediments where the flies concentrate. I couldn't believe the number of the alkali flies and when I disturbed them they would all take off at the same time buzz around a little and then land almost like a small cloud attracted to the sediments, it was an amazing sight. A huge flock of seagulls made their home on the nearby island. I sat on a rickety wooden bench and admired the scenery for a while.














We move on towards Lee Vining stopping for lunch at another barbecue place, this time it's Bodie Mike's Bar-B-Q, "it's as good as gold" is the tag line. The barbecued sandwiches were very tasty, the waitresses friendly, warm weather and a beautiful blue sky, what else could we ask for.

We leave Lee Vining and continue towards the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Coming in from the East you go up a steep climb of 3,000 ft (914 m) feet towards Tioga Pass (el. 9,943 ft. / 3,031 m.) in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. State Route 120 runs through it, and serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park. It is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. The climb is slow due to a few four door cages in front of us but it gives us time to appreciate the granite formations.





Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams and Giant Sequoia groves. The park is 1,189 sq mi (3,080 km2) and is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Almost all of the landforms in the Yosemite area are cut from the granitic rock of the Sierra Nevada Batholith. The mountains behind me are not made of dirt and rocks but of a single granite piece that has been pushed up over the years. It's an amazing sight of valleys, canyons and domes all around us.







We continued on route 120 until Big Oak Road where we made a left and followed the road to the valley down bellow. We stopped at Bridalveil Fall, at 188 metres (617 ft) high, it is one of the most prominent waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley. We walk up to the base of the fall but there's too much spray in the air, my brother took one quick picture of me with my phone and then retreats with his expensive camera back to the safety of the forest nearby. I stayed and took pictures of myself, not the most flattering pictures but I have never been one to care about my best angle. I got my camera and phone wet but it was worth it. The Ahwahneechee tribe believed that Bridalveil Fall was home to a vengeful spirit named Pohono which guarded the entrance to the valley, and that those leaving the valley must not look directly into the waterfall lest they be cursed. I left without looking back just to be sure.










We move on pass El Capitan, a prominent granite cliff that looms over Yosemite Valley, is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world and was featured in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. As a challenge to himself in 2287, James T. Kirk attempted free climbing El Capitan solo, without any safety equipment; an attempt which nearly resulted in his death. Fortunately Spock saved Kirk's life with the help of his jet boots. I have always loved Star Trek and that scene had been stuck in my mind. It's an impressive vertical rock formation, 3,000 feet (910 m) high located on the north side of Yosemite Valley and is composed almost entirely of El Capitan Granite, a pale, coarse-grained granite emplaced approximately 100 million years ago. I wished I had jet boots to be able to soar over the park and enjoy the beauty from above. Yosemite is truly a treasure in the US National Park system. We pass a few water falls on the way out of the valley and back to route 120 and then proceed west towards the park exit.




It was late afternoon when we exit the park and arrive in Groveland just outside the park. We park our bikes and stroll around the little town. We visit the Iron Door Grill, California oldest saloon. The Historic Iron Door Saloon was built in the California Gold Country sometime before 1852. It was first called the "Granite Store", perhaps because the front and back walls are made of solid granite blocks. We admire the heavy metal door but since my brother is not a drinker we moved on, besides we still had to ride a few more hours and alcohol and bikes don't mix. The front of the building has a beautiful mural depicting the Yosemite National Park.






We leave Groveland and decide to continue towards Manteca, about 65 miles away, where we would find a motel to spend the night. We left Groveland after sunset with the dark sky quickly engulfing us. We continued on route 120 but were surprised to encounter the first 45 miles completely deserted, not a single town or lights around us. We made good progress, the traffic not that heavy, but always on the look out for deer crossing the road, dusk being one of the most dangerous time to ride a motorcycle. We arrive in Manteca and after a quick search on the GPS and a few calls we find a motel and quickly head there.


We rode 320 miles through beautiful mountains passes, valleys, lakes, cute little towns along the way and we visited California's oldest Saloon, one of the best days so far. It had been a long day but also an amazing day of overwhelming beautiful scenery.






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Old 08-19-2010, 07:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by zadok
Great trip on a great bike. I was fortunate to own a 1000GTR (as they are known here) for about 18 months, until it got written off in an unfortunate accident. At least I'm around to tell the tale. Old tech, but still a great bike.
It is a great bike, did 8900 miles round trip and not a single problem
One oil change and 2 new tires in Redmond
Started running a little rough somewhere in Oregon but after 3 bottles of Techron it went away, must have picked up bad gas along the way
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:19 AM   #18
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Day 8 - Manteca to Pinole

Today is the day we reach the Pacific Coast, the goal of our cross country trip. After leaving New Jersey and covering over 3000 miles (4800Km) we will ride into San Francisco through the Oakland Bay Bridge and have lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf by the water. The ride to San Francisco was only going to be 80 miles, we got up a little later than usual and after having breakfast in the motel we hit the road, the sky cloudy and colder than usual. We followed Highway 205 through Tracy and later Highway 580 West, where we passed literally hundreds of wind turbines up on the hills, through Livermore and Castro Valley before we started going north towards Oakland and the Bay Bridge. The traffic was light until we approached the Oakland Bay Bridge, the early Saturday commuters trying to funnel into the Bay Bridge to get into downtown San Francisco. Forming part of Interstate 80, the bridge consists of two major crossings connecting each shore with Yerba Buena Island, a natural outcropping located mid-bay. We stayed close together, my brother acting as my wingman, trying to navigate around the cage traffic. We entered the bridge and moved onto the upper deck which carries 5 lanes of traffic into San Francisco, the bottom deck used for outbound traffic. We cross the Yerba Buena Island tunnel and enter the second span of the bridge with the city skyline now in front of us.










I had pointed my GPS to Coit Tower and after navigating through the difficult downtown hills, always wary of the slippery metal rail tracks from the cable cars, we reach the top of the hill where the tower is located. Coit Tower is a 210-foot (64 m) tower located in the city's Pioneer Park built in 1933 and is a monument to the firefighters of San Francisco. Paid for by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires in the early days of the city's history, the tower took five years to construct and it's built with unpainted reinforced concrete. We pay the $4.50 and go up in a very old and slow elevator, guided by an old Chinese lady, as she tells us the history of the tower in a heavily accented and broken English. The tower offers a beautiful three hundred and sixty degree view of the city and you can see the nearby Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland Bay Bridge, the famous and easily recognizable Transamerica Pyramid building and the curves of Lombard Street. The observation deck was packed with tourists and we struggle to get a good place to take a few photos.










We descend the tower and move on to the parking lot where we chat with a few Koreans girls on a visit to the USA. They marvel at the self cleaning public restroom nearby and we all tease my brother as he enters the restroom and presses the button to close the door, we could just imagine the system malfunctioning and the door opening while he is sitting on the lavatory.





We leave the hill and head to Fisherman's Warf finding a place to park the bikes in front of a park on Columbus Avenue. We had just dismounted our bikes when a disheveled young lady approaches my brother and asks him if she could touch his bike as she marvels at his BMW. My brother agrees to it and she starts running her hands up and down the bike stroking ever so gently but my brother quickly retracts the offer when she starts cleaning his headlight. She then suggest, after noticing all the dead bugs on the windshield, she could wash the bike for a nominal fee to which my brother vehemently refuses as she would most likely scratch his prized bike. She continues to protest as she doesn't understand why we wouldn't want our bikes washed and then ask us if we can help her with money. We explain we on a cross country trip and on a tight budget and don't have any money to spare, she doesn't seem too happy and we quickly retreat out of there, getting back on our bikes and moving on to another location after noticing the group of guys she was hanging with. We didn't feel the bikes would be safe after refusing her offer and not helping her with money. The park seems to be a hangout for the local hobos. We go around the block and find a public garage where we feel the bikes are secure. We leave the bikes and continue walking down a block to Fisherman's Wharf.





Fisherman's Wharf is lined with seafood restaurants ranging from casual, open-air clam bars, to formal indoor dining with views of the bay. Whale watching tours and fishing trips leave from the wharf, and sea lions often sleep on the pilings, buoys, and moored boats in the bay. All kinds of music permeate the area as we stroll through Jefferson's Street and walk up the piers. We admire the old ships on Hyde Street Pier and man and woman dressed in period costumes. We continue down the street through the cacophony of sounds from all the tourist mixed with the loud music emanating from the restaurants and local street musicians. We stroll into an alley after hearing beautiful sounds and music emanating from it to find a solo musician playing beautiful music under a flower covered awning. The place is full of tourists, some just walking around while others are savoring the local restaurants.













We continue along Jefferson's Street on the way to Pier 41 where we would surely see the famous and noisy seals. We weren't disappointed as hundreds of seals were sun basking in between the piers. We were walking along the pier when out of nowhere I hear someone calling my name, I turn around and it's my friend Chris from the Central Jersey Motorcycle Riders Club. Chris and I did a nice bike trip to Gaspe in Quebec Canada last year. What a surprise, he's visiting San Francisco and we happen to be present at the same time on the same pier. We chat for a while and then split up, it was lunch time and we were starving.

















We return to Jefferson's Street and start looking for a place to have some of the local seafood that Fisherman's Wharf is so famous for. We find the right place at the Lou's Blues Club. The Blues music coming from upstairs providing the right atmosphere to my Gumbo and Anchor Steam Beer, a local beer from San Francisco. I have never been fond of clams or mussels but I just had to try a local Gumbo and it was really good, so good that I cleaned up the plate with slices of warm bread, I ate it all.













We leave the Wharf area and walk towards Lombard Street climbing up the steep hills passing beautiful homes along the way. Lombard Street is best known for the one-way section on Russian Hill in which the roadway has eight steep and sharp turns (or switchbacks) that have earned the street the distinction of being the crookedest street in the world. We walk down Lombard Street admiring the beautiful homes and all the flowers adorning the sidewalk.



















We return to our bikes and head out of San Francisco towards the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was not cooperating with us though, the Pacific fog having engulfed the top of the bridge preventing us from truly enjoying the views from the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed during the year 1937, and has become one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco. We cross the bridge and pull into the observation area on the north end, the strong wind almost blowing us off the road. We take a few pictures and then decide to continue north taking the route 1 exit towards the Pacific coast.









Route 1 winds along towards the coast through Mt. Tamalpais State Park offering beautiful views. We pass a few riders along the way only making a stop at the top of a cliff to take pictures. It was getting late in the day but we decided to stop in Bolinas for a cup of coffee and cake, the temperature having dropped to the mid 50's. I have never had such a huge cup of coffee as I had that day, the cup dwarfing my camera. We sat under a heat lamp eating our slice of cake and enjoying the warm cup of coffee. We later walk along the main street past a few art galleries and make a quick stop to admire the Smiley's Schooner Saloon and Hotel established in 1851.













After inquiring about motels in the area we are told to head inland towards Fairfax as nothing was available in Bolinas. We leave town and stop on the edge of route 1, it was already dark. The GPS pointed us forward towards the Bolinas Fairfax road in front of us, the road didn't look like much, we look at each other and decided to continue straight. I look down at my GPS and all I see is a very long squiggly line. How bad could it be? I have done the Dragon, route 129 from NC to TN but this road was a much bigger challenge. It climbs up steep hills with tight switchbacks and steep descents, we did it at night and with fog throughout the route. Bing maps says it's only 16.5 miles and will take 45 minutes to traverse, they are being very optimistic. It took us over an hour and a half to get to Fairfax. We stopped for a few pictures on Alpine Lake and then continued to Fairfax. We call a few motels in town but they were either expensive or full, we look on the GPS and find a hotel in Pinole, about 21 miles away. We leave Fairfax after 9 and after crossing the Richmond San Rafael Bridge arrive at the motel around 9:30PM.






Long exposure shot


Super long exposure shot




Another great day, we had achieved our main goal, crossing the country on a bike and seen the Pacific Ocean. It would still be a couple of days before I could get my feet in the Pacific Ocean but I had enjoyed the first part of the trip, seen lots of beautiful roads, mountains and cities, had crossed a few parks, met interesting people and had good food. Tomorrow we head up along the coast towards Oregon






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Old 08-26-2010, 10:58 AM   #19
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Damn you...

...ride reports like this really kill my work productivity.
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:22 AM   #20
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...ride reports like this really kill my work productivity.
ha ha ADVrider is what's killing my work productivity

So many reports, so little time to read them by next year I expect to have a real adventure bike (listening Yamaha??) (listening Triumph??) then I will be able to do some real adventures
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:32 AM   #21
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Day 9 - Pinole to Fort Bragg

After a quick breakfast in the motel, we left Pinole and headed south on Interstate 80 towards I580 and then veered right and crossed the bay on the John T. Knox freeway (bridge) towards San Rafael. With the temperature in the mid 50's and the early morning fog covering the mountains in the background we donned our liners and headed towards the coast. After setting the GPS pointing towards Olema, we pass San Rafael, Fairfax and the Samuel P. Taylor State Park and arrive in Olema making a right onto Route 1 North. We travel a few more miles and arrive at Point Reyes Station immediately pulling into the first store for a warm cup of coffee. It was Sunday, early morning, most of the town was still sleeping.






We have our coffee and then proceed north on Route 1 stopping to take pictures along the Tomales Bay. Did I say it was cold? It was, we never expected the Californian weather to be this cold in mid-July and with the sky still covered with fog, there was no opportunity for good photos. We leave the bay area and move inland still on route 1 pulling into Tomales a few miles later. We see a few old cars and it appears to be a get together of classics. We stop in front of Tomales Bakery and walk around admiring the cars. We step inside the bakery, the smell of fresh cookies in the air, we look at each other and coffee and cookies was soon in our hands. I see an old Alfa Romeo across the street, it brings back memories of childhood when my dad used to take me to see car races. Alfa Romeo's were some of the fastest cars back then. I admire the lines of the two jaguars parked next to a new BMW Z8








We move on along the rocky coast stopping various times for pictures. We pass the Sonoma Coast State Beach, the famous coast is truly beautiful with all the rocks and alcoves. We were surprised to find the Portuguese Beach and wondered who had named the beach, most likely a Portuguese emigrant. (I was born Portuguese but changed my nationality in the early 90's)









I see two locals on the side of the road staring intently at us and probably wondering what all the noise was about as we zoomed by, I managed to quicly get the camera and snap a shot while riding.



We stop at the Bones Roadhouse for lunch and have a magnificent loaded barbecued burger with fries and a large coke. We rest for a while and then proceed north, passing some amazing looking trees and beautiful beaches through Fort Ross State Historic Park and Salt Point State Park, we pass beautiful little towns along the coast, Point Arena, Mendocino, Caspar near the Jackson State Forest and arrive in Fort Bragg late in the afternoon.






We find a motel a block away from the beach and after unloading the bikes I put on shorts and head to the beach. It was a cold day but before leaving New Jersey I had told my daughter I would be wetting my feet in the Pacific water somewhere in California but I was not prepared for how cold the water was. I step in the water and my feet almost froze, it was really cold, no way I would swim in this cold water.







I stroll along the beach taking pictures of the rock formations and admiring the beautiful flowers growing on the dark coastal rocks. It's amazing how these beautiful flowers are able to survive with the constant wind blowing in from the Pacific. They must have amazing roots to be able to hold onto the dark sand.








I return back to the room and after checking with my brother, I head alone to a local restaurant for dinner, he was too tired to go out. The restaurant happens to be a brewery and I quickly pick a four sampler of the local beer and add clam chowder and a shrimp and salsa salad with avocado for a light dinner, it was 9pm and the waiter had told me I was going to be the last customer, I was glad I had made it on time. The beer went down fast with my mouthwatering shrimp salad. I return to the motel for a good night sleep, the fog quickly engulfing the sleepy town. I take one last shot of the town at night with the ever present fog.




We covered a little less than 200 miles on this day, it was a short riding day but not short of beautiful landscapes.

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Old 09-29-2010, 06:23 AM   #22
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Day 10 - Fort Bragg to Crescent City

Today we complete the final leg of our trip in northern California with a stop in Crescent City for the night and tomorrow we enter Oregon. Yesterday we had a nice slow ride from San Francisco to Fort Bragg and today is more of the same with 220 leisurely miles up route 101 through Redwood country to Crescent City.
We have complementary breakfast in the motel, it's so convenient and also helps with the finances, and then hit the road, the sun still hiding behind the Pacific fog and the temperature in the mid 50's. We leave Fort Bragg and continue north on route 1 also known as Shoreline Highway, the fog moving in from the Pacific, the top of the hills disappearing behind the low clouds and the lack of traffic providing a surreal feeling to the early morning.





We pass MacKerricher State Park pulling into a few overlooks along the coast for photos and to better appreciate the beauty of the moss covered trees lining the road. The wind moving in was cold, we keep our jackets and liners on. The Pacific winds are so constant that it forces the trees to lean east, it's an amazing sight as we travel up the coast. The conditions were not good for photography, the gray sky merging with the ocean offering little contrast to capture the beautiful coastline. I see a lonely bird, he seemed to have a jacket on, he looked cold and in no hurry to fly or move from his perch on a nearby rock, I quickly snap a picture of the bird.









We move inland as we approach Leggett and take route 271 to visit Chandelier Tree also known as the Drive-Thru Tree. The Chandelier Tree is a 315 foot (96 meter) tall Coast Redwood with a 6 foot (1.83 m) wide by 6 foot 9 inch (2.06 m) high hole cut through its base to allow a car or motorcycle to drive through. The hole was carved in the 1930s. We enter the park and were immediately struck by the height of the redwoods, you don't realize how tall they are until you stop next to one and look up. We walk around mesmerized by the grandeur of the Giant Redwoods.The Giant Redwoods, also known as California Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) is an evergreen, long-lived tree living for up to 2,500 — 3,500 years or more, and this species includes the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 379.30 ft (115.61 meters) in height and 25.9 ft (7.9 meters) diameter at breast height. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon.










We continue through the park until we reach Chandelier Tree, we did the obligatory stop under the tree to snap some pictures and then move over to the visitor center for a refreshment. It's amazing how the tree continues to live and grow even with so much missing from the trunk.






We continue north on route 101 now known as Redwood Highway passing various little towns and then just north of Garberville enter route 254 known as Avenue of the Giants. The avenue is notable for the Coast Redwoods that surround the road. We continue past Phillipsville, the road winding alongside the scenic Eel River providing beautiful vistas. We stop a little later to walk around the forest and really appreciate the majestic Redwoods. We act like little kids playing hide and seek, the giants trees providing various places to hide.













We enter Humboldt Redwoods State Park still on Avenue of the Giants returning back to route 101 just north of the park, the road now taking us west again towards the coast past Fortuna until we reach Humboldt Bay. We pass Eureka and continue along Arcata Bay past Arcata, route 101 bisecting the little town. We stop at a visitor center just before Redwood National Park and take a walk on the beach, the sun now out and providing much needed warmed. The beautiful blue sky presenting a beautiful backdrop to the dark sand.







We continue north passing a herd of elk resting on someone's yard, we quickly stop for a few pictures, the beautiful elk totally ignoring us.





We enter Redwood National Park, the road winding past majestic Redwoods. The roads in this part of California are trully amazing, perfect for riding a motorcycle. We pass a group of cyclists going south as we leave the park












We next stop at the Trees of Mystery, a roadside attraction in Klamath, it includes a 15 meter tall statue of Paul Bunyan and a 10 meter Babe the Blue Ox. We visit the store but quickly leave after finding most of the stuff for sale is made in China.



We reach Crescent City just as the sun is setting over the Pacific providing a beautiful end to the day. We quickly find a motel and then head out to dinner after unpacking our bikes. We didn't cover a lot of ground on this day, a mere 220 miles, it was a different pace, a leisurely pace allowing us to really appreciate the beauty of the coast and the Redwoods along northern California. Tomorrow we enter Oregon.



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Old 09-29-2010, 06:31 AM   #23
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Day 11 - Crescent City to Crater Lake National Park

We have been carrying camping gear since we left New Jersey but have not camped once. On this day I made a resolution that I would camp at the Crater Lake National Park come rain or shine. The park is one of the highlights of this trip. I had seen pictures of the park and was thrilled to camp there but was not ready for what was to come, but lets not jump ahead, let me start from the beginning.
The motel had a nice complementary breakfast and we made good use of it, toast and coffee accompanied by muffins and some cereal to top it off, a really healthy breakfast to start the day.
We pack our bags, load them onto the bikes and get rolling in the cool morning. We leave Crescent City and head north east on Route 199 also known as Redwood Highway. Nine miles outside Crescent City we enter Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park and soon thereafter take a detour and cross the Smith River. We stop for the obligatory pictures and marvel at how clear the water is, being able to see the bottom of the river from the bridge. We head up the road on the other side for a while crossing a beautiful wooden covered bridge until we reach the end of the road and the start of a gravel road. We turn around and head back to route 199 and continue north.





A little later, barely 40 miles out of Crescent City we hit the Oregon border. We stop to take a picture of the sign and a fellow ADV rider comes running out of his RV and offers to take a picture of me while my brother is still working on extricating his camera out of the bag. The fellow was traveling with his family and was excited to see fellow ADV riders. I explain to him our route and final destination for the day and he excitedly tells us our beautiful Crater Lake National Park is. I should have gotten his ADV "inmate" name but the fellow was in a rush, the wife and kids waiting in the RV.



Six miles up the road we see an old police car in front of a store, we quickly pull into the O'Brien store for a refreshment. We had now moved quite a few miles inland and the temperature had been rising, it was time to have a cold drink. I walk around the store and end up getting a corn dog, my brother looks amazed at how I could be eating again so soon after our large breakfast, I tell him I can't resist a good corn dog. The store had a US Post Office located in the back of the building, I buy a post card and after writing a little note mail it home to my daughter and wife. We leave soon thereafter.



A little up the road I pass something I hadn't seen since I was a teen, a Volvo PV544 rusting away on someone's property, what a shame. I quickly hit the brakes and make a u-turn to get a picture of the car my dad had when I was a kid. I grew up with a car just like this one except my dad's was red. It was a beaecreatutiful and fast car for it's time with a 1.8 L engine and twin carburetors. Staring at the car brought back good memories. I got back on the road feeling a little sadness, the little Volvo made me realize how life moves on and I am getting older.



The beautiful roads of Oregon quickly bring me back to reality and I get back to enjoying the roads and the scenery. We ride through Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest past Grants Pass where we pick up 234 north to 62 north, also known as Crater Lake Highway. We make good time with very little traffic as the road winds pass Lost Creek Lake and through Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area. The road crosses the lake and starts climbing soon after towards the crater. After a steep climb up the side of the crater we soon arrive at the visitor center.






We dismount and head to the edge of the crater and when we get there I think we spend a few minutes with open mouth, you just can't describe how beautiful the view is, the crater still has remnants of snow, the deep blue color of the water down below and the sky offering another shade of blue above us, truly an amazing and picture perfect place. I spot a squirrel going about his business, looking for food and coming ever closer to us in hope we will throw something, I get a good shot of him.







We walk around the edge of the crater and then move to the visitor center for a good cup of coffee. They have these beautiful trolleys to carry people between the visitor center and the lodge. We decide it's time to look for a camp site, we leave and head down the same way we came up, we had passed a camp site a few miles earlier.





We arrive at the campsite and were immediately attacked by mosquitoes, not a few mosquitoes but thousands of them. While getting our campsite number we were informed by the attendant to get mosquito spray from the store, she tells us the mosquitoes are out in force and very aggressive. We get back on the bikes and ride to the site, after unloading the bikes we take a walk to the campsite store to buy a few necessities. The attendant was right, I had never seen anything this bad, the mosquitoes were so aggressive even attacking us through our mesh jackets. It was so bad in fact that my brother walked around with his gear and helmet on while assembling the tent. I regret not getting a picture but I was busy fending off the mosquitoes and spraying myself with DEET.





We setup the tents and then it's time to cook dinner. My brother had brought with him a prepackaged meal and he offered to share it with me, it was rice with beans and vegetables, a perfect complement to my Henry Weinhard's beer, a local Oregon beer first brewed in 1856 in Portland. I follow my dinner with bite-size DOLE Diced Pears and a candy for dessert. We setup a campfire as the night had cooled dramatically and huddled around it for a while but we were exhausted and soon retired to our comfy sleeping bags. We were finally camping, it was the perfect ending to our first day in Oregon. I had kept my promised, we were camping in the Crater Lake National Park.







We had an easy day again covering a mere 200 miles as we moved inland. The scenery changed dramatically from the coastal wind swept redwoods to a much warmer forest inland, the temperature climbing from the mid 50's to the high 90's. It was a beautiful riding day, it just keeps getting better and better as we move north.

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Old 09-29-2010, 06:37 PM   #24
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Day 12 - Crater Lake National Park to Redmond

Trying to describe the beauty of Crater Lake National Park through words will not be an easy task and will not do it justice. Words like blue, cobalt, turquoise, sapphire, indigo, aqua, azure, cerulean, cyan come to mind to describe the colors and the beauty of the water down in the crater but it's better expressed through photography. The view from the top of the crater is simply breathtaking.



We woke up early, the sun streaming in through our tents, to the early morning chatter of the campsite. The early morning was chilly, I quickly made a cup of hot oatmeal and followed it with a cup of coffee to start the day. We took down our tents, packed the bikes and left the camp heading uphill back to the edge of the crater this time following the Rim Drive east around the crater. The road, closed during winter, twists and turns along the edge of the crater offering plenty places to stop and enjoy the scenery. Our first stop was above Danger Bay were we get a beautiful view of the crater.







Crater Lake National Park encompasses the Crater Lake caldera, which rests in the remains of a destroyed volcano. The lake is 1,949 feet (594 m) deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. The caldera rim ranges in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m) and the lake surface itself is 6,178 feet (1,883 m). The lake's water commonly has a striking blue hue, and the lake is re-filled entirely from direct precipitation in the form of snow and rain. I stood on the edge of the crater looking down in disbelief, I had never seen such deep blue. In front of us stood Wizard Island, I could see its edges disappearing below the clear water.













We continued around stopping various times to admire the beauty of the lake but the previous night's mosquitoes were still following us. My brother and I kept our helmets on most of the time for protection but the mosquitoes were not giving up, getting under our helmets trying to get at our faces, it was a constant battle trying to fend off the little devils.








We made our way around the lake eventually leaving through the Crater Lake Highway North entrance until we meet Route 138, making a right and following the next 15 miles on a road straight as an arrow until we meet Route 97, also known as The Dalles-California Highway. At the junction right in front of us is the Diamond Lake Junction Cafe and Fuel Station, the sign by the road simply said "EAT", we quickly pull in. I ask the young girl behind the counter for something sweet and she says they have a Cream Pie that is really good, how could I refuse, I get my slice and follow it with a cup of coffee.




Taken from Google maps

We leave and continue north on Route 97 until we meet Route 58 West, also known as Willamette Highway, which goes towards Eugene. We follow it for a few miles and then make a right turn onto the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The highway runs for 66 miles (106 km) in the rugged Deschutes National Forest on the east side of the Cascade Range. The route is so named because it weaves past a number of small natural lakes along the Cascades. It's a beautiful road through the forest passing Devil's Pass, an area filled with lava rocks and lakes with amazingly clear water. I was amazed to see the hills made of lava with the rocks right up to the edge of the road.







As we approach Bend I capture one of the most beautiful scenes so far on my trip, a beautiful green field with Mount Bachelor in the background.




We get to Bend and jump back on Route 97 following it north until Redmond. We arrive at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center for the BMW MOA (Motorcycles Owners of America) event mid afternoon. After registering we enter the expo center and quickly setup camp. There are already hundreds of other BMW riders at the camp.




We will camp for 4 nights while my brother attends the event. I don't own a BMW, there's not much for me to see. I will continue north through Portland and into Washington State tomorrow. We covered 180 miles from Crater Lake National Park to Redmond through beautiful roads and fantastic scenery.

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Old 10-05-2010, 03:52 PM   #25
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Day 13 - Redmond to Portland

Today is the first day of BMW MOA (Motorcycles Owners of America) event, there were literally thousands of members camping at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. We had setup camp the previous night in a quite area of the campsite, I got up early and made a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. My Connie needed a new rear tire and the front tire didn't have much life on it either, I quickly headed to a dealer selling tires at the event. I got a new Bridgestone installed in the rear but unfortunately he didn't have the size for the front. I ordered a tire and was promised the tire would arrive on Saturday, we were scheduled to depart Redmond on Sunday. As soon as the bike was ready I departed Redmond and headed towards the town of Sisters along route 126 also known as the McKenzie Highway. 20 miles later I was in Sisters, a small town of less than 2000 folks. Sisters is a quaint little town with a very western look to it, I was expecting cowboys to ride in at any moment. I stopped for a cup of coffee and then strolled around admiring the buildings along Cascade Avenue.





I depart Sisters and head north west on route 20, Santiam Highway, the road flowing along the Deschutes National Forest and offering a beautiful view of Mt. Jefferson with its sides still covered in snow. I pass lots of lava flow along the side of the road and stop various times to walk through the lava rocks. The lava is thousands of years old and in between the rocks you see all kinds of trees and indigenous flora growing, it's an amazing sight.









I pass Suttle Lake and Lost Lake and in Santiam Junction I take route 22 north crossing Willamette National Forest. The road is carved through the forest which stretches for over 100 miles (160 km) along the western slopes of the Cascade Range. I reach the town of Detroit and proceed north on route 224 towards Mt. Hood National Forest, the road now following sinuously a creek that feeds the Detroit Lake. I make various stops for pictures and to relax in the cool forest as the temperature had been rising towards the mid 90's.



















As I approach Portland I set my GPS pointing towards the Portland Aerial Tram near the South Waterfront Terminal and adjacent to the OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University). I park the bike near the Tram Terminal and after purchasing my round trip fare of $4, I take the tram to the upper terminal at the Kohler Pavilion on OHSU's main campus, it's a 3 minute ride at 22mph rising 500 feet over Interstate 5, a major north/south Interstate.






The upper terminal offers a beautiful panorama of downtown Portland and a stunning view of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. Mt. Hood located in Oregon and Mt. St. Helens, the one without the peak in Washington State. I get back on the Tram and descend back to the terminal. I have a Panini and a drink in the OHSU cafeteria and then leave heading downtown to the very famous Voodoo Donuts shop. It's a quick jaunt down the busy streets and I quickly arrive at the store.





After seeing a program on the Discovery channel on TV about Voodoo Donuts, I had promised my daughter I would stop there for donuts and coffee and I would have one of the famous Voodoo Dolls Donuts. I got my Voodoo Doll and slowly punished the doll by eating it slowly while sending pictures to my daughter by cell phone as I slowly ate the doll. We both laughed as the doll looses her arms and started bleeding.













I leave the donut shop, ride a few blocks and park the bike near Lan Su Chinese Garden in the Portland Chinatown area. I stroll around the area passing the Darcelle XV, a female impersonators comedy show.







It was getting late and I still had a long way to go, my plan being to cross into Washington State, ride up Interstate 5 and look for a motel close to route 504, the road that leads to Mount St. Helens observatory. I leave the downtown area and immediately run into rush hour traffic. Half an hour later I have barely moved across the Willamette River, a few miles later I cross the Columbia River into Vancouver and I'm sweating with the temperature in the mid 90's, I immediately look for a place to have dinner and let the commuter rush subside. I have barely traveled 10 miles, time to relax with a cold one. As I cross the Columbia River I spot Joe's Crab Shack on the river bank on the Vancouver side of the river, I love crabs, and with the traffic still backed up for miles on I5, I take the next exit and head there. I sat outside and had a scrumptious crab salad with a cold one.




I leave the restaurant around 6, ride north about 50 miles on I5 and find a motel with a laundromat near Castle Rock. The perfect place to spend the night, I had lots of laundry to wash. It's hard to believe but I have traveled over 4000 miles on my trip all the way across the country and tomorrow I will visit Mount St. Helens. I rode 240 miles from Redmond through beautiful towns, forests and rivers and I'm ever closer to the point where I will turn around and start heading east. Mount St. Helens will be the most northern place I will visit on my trip.

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Old 10-15-2010, 06:40 AM   #26
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Day 14 - Mount St. Helens to Redmond

Today I will ride the last 50 miles to Mount St. Helens Observatory and then back to Redmond, Oregon to join my brother at the BMW MOA. Today is supposed to be the highlight of my solo ride up north, I have been anticipating the trip to the volcano observatory for quite some time. I was still living in South Africa when its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980 happened and I still remember seeing the eruption on TV the hash plume rising into the sky eventually reaching 12 to 16 miles (20 to 27 km) above sea level.
I had a beautiful and sunny day ahead of me and since I took so many photos I will use the photos to describe my ride. I got up early and after a quick breakfast at a nearby fast food restaurant I headed East on route 504 to cover the 50 miles to the observatory in a slow rising and winding road that leads you up the Cascade Range.



My first stop was at the Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center where I was told if I watched the area down below carefully I might see some deer or elk. I stood on the overlook carefully scanning the forest and the area where ash and debris had flowed downstream below me with the camera at the ready. It took me a while but my patience paid off when I noticed little specks moving. My camera has a 15x zoom and when combined with the digital zoom it's almost like a telescope. Below are the results of my patience, a few elk passing by.













I continued up the road and stopped a little later when I see deer on the road, by the time I took the camera out they were already running up the hill away from me.



I reach the Observatory and spend some time inside reading about the eruption and destruction caused by the volcano. Inside stood a huge tree snapped in half by the explosion.



I move outside and climb a little hill outside to get a better view of the caldera and catch a squirrel going about his business trying to get food out of the tourists. The little fellow was courageous coming within inches of my hand.







The view is amazing from this side of the mountain, the horseshoe shape of the crater being created when the peak blew off. The crater looks so close but is 5 miles away from the observatory.
















As I walk around I see lots of examples of the destruction on that fateful day, trees snapped in half and entire trees uprooted from the ground



The ground is so white that it's difficult to get a good photo with so much light but I get a beautiful shot of Mt. St. Helens with some beautiful purple flowers in the foreground









This side of the mountain has been reseeded and you see new trees growing everywhere. I left the observatory area and made my first stop at the Coldwater Lake. The area was quiet and serene, I stood at the edge of the lake gazing at the clear water and wondering what it must have been like on the day of the eruption.







I left Mount St. Helens and pointed my GPS to the next big mountain, Mount Hood in Oregon, about 160 miles away. The ride from the observatory down Interstate 5 past Vancouver and skirting Portland was uneventful and I made quick time. I aim for route 26 also known as Mount Hood Highway just outside Portland and head towards the famous Timberline lodge. The huge lodge is famous for being the exterior facade of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining movie with Jack Nicholson. The inside of the lodge in the movie and the maze were filmed somewhere else.



The beautiful lodge, built in the late 1930s is a National Historic Landmark and sits at an elevation of 5,960 feet (1,817 m), within the Mount Hood National Forest and is accessible through the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. It's an amazing structure inside and I admire the wooden columns that hold the building together. In winter it's a major ski resort.





I grab a cup of coffee inside and then move outside climbing on foot another quarter of a mile up the slope. It's a steep climb that leaves me out of breath, the altitude not helping my aging lungs.







The views are breathtaking and I spend some time admiring the view of the surrounding mountains and the snow covered slopes.





I leave the mountain and continue south on route 26 for another 55 miles until I reach Warm Springs located in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. I had left the mountain with the temperature in the 60's and by the time I had reached Warm Springs it had climbed to the mid 90's. I pass the Indian Head Casino, the scenery having turned from forest to a very desert like environment.









Just south of Warm Springs I see a sign pointing towards the Pelton Regulating Reservoir, I followed my instinct and it turned out to be one of the best roads to ride, completely devoid of traffic. I make my first stop at the campsite by the reservoir.











I leave the reservoir and the road winds up the side of the canyon until I reach the top of the mesa where it offers a beautiful view of the reservoir and campsite down below. Two ADV riders see me on the side of the road and stop to see if everything is okay with me, I thank them for stopping and they continue on their own adventure. I wander along the edge of the mesa always cautions of the steep drop to the bottom of the canyon.











It was getting late and I still had a way to go to Redmond, I continued down some back roads making my way back to route 97 where I continued south just south of the town of Madras.







I stop on the side of the road to watch a beautiful sunset and take pictures of the bike with the long shadows crossing an empty road.





I stay on the side of the road immersed in my thoughts just gazing at the beautiful sun disappearing behind the mountains. What a beautiful trip I've had so far, I'm a very lucky guy to be able to experience what this beautiful land has to offer.





My next stop is a few miles down the road when I spot a beautiful mansion, obviously a successful farmer. I snap a few pictures and continue south.





My last stop before I return to Redmond is at the Peter Skene Ogden State Park a few miles north of Redmond. I walk along the bridge spanning the ravine as the sun quickly sets in the horizon.





I call my brother and invite him to join me for dinner but he was busy watching some band play at the event concert, plus he had already had dinner earlier on, his loss. I head to the Fountains Bar and Grill where I have a nice juicy steak and a local beer with the very friendly waitress for company.



I return to the BMW MOA (Motorcycles Owners of America) campsite and join my brother at the concert, having ridden 250 miles from Mount St. Helens to Redmond through some amazing countryside.

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Old 10-18-2010, 05:39 PM   #27
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Day 15 - Redmond - Sisters

Today is another easy day, being the last day of the BMW MOA event I had scheduled a short tour around the area returning early to the campsite to partake in the final festivities but first I had to install a new rear tire and change the oil. I woke up early with the sound of the other campers moving about and proceeded to drop the bike at the tire dealer at the event to install the tire I had ordered 2 days before and change the oil. I returned to my tent and proceeded to make myself breakfast, Quaker Oats Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal and a warm cup of instant coffee cooked in my little camping stove. I picked up the bike a little later and it was time to roll. I left the campsite headed to Sisters, a town named after the Three Sisters mountains that dominate its western skyline.
Just outside Redmond I ran into a very picturesque ranch with lots of old cars spread out through the field. I pulled off to the side of the road for the obligatory pictures.




I continued west on route 126 making another stop when I crossed a bridge over a little creek and saw some people jumping in the water. It was a hot day, low 90's and they were having fun swimming below the bridge. I felt like dropping all the gear and jump in too! I don't think they would appreciate me joining them in my boxers.





I continued west stopping again when I rode into Sisters, saw the cute little Espresso Junction coffee shop and pulled in for a Latte. I then moved to the center of Sisters, parked the bike and strolled through the cute little town. I see an Alpaca store and since my daughter loves alpacas, I went in looking for a gift for her. I never knew alpaca fleece was so expensive. I end up buying a hand crocheted green Alpaca hat that I was sure would please her. I move across the street and buy an ice cream at Hucklebearys store, they sell coffee, ice cream and shoes, yes, they are a shoe store too.





I walk around admiring all the little restaurants and the great variety of antique stores. The town maintains the western look across all the stores, I think it's really cute town.







I leave town, continuing west, now following route 242 also known as McKenzie Highway stopping a little later when I see lots of lava flow right up to the edge of the road. As I'm contemplating the unbelievable scenery all around me I hear a roar coming up the twisty road, I quickly turn the camera towards the fast approaching wail and snap a photo of a rider coming around the turn at a very high rate of speed. I go for the second shot but he is already disappearing around the next turn. The sight got my adrenalin pumping but all I could think was how a simple mistake could turn into a very nasty crash against the lava rocks on the edge of the road.






I continue down the road stopping again at the Dee Wright Observatory, an observation structure at the summit of McKenzie Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. The observatory is constructed with lava stones, is located in the midst of a large lava flow and offers an exceptional view of numerous Cascade peaks.









I find it amazing that in between all the destruction brought by the lava flow you find pine trees growing.





I continue west until I meet route 126, I turn right and follow north the beautiful McKenzie Highway, the road twisting along a river now through a forest. I stop at a rest area and take a walk along the edge of the river, the water cold but extremely clean.






I pass the Trail Bridge reservoir and later Clear Lake along the McKenzie river. I make my next stop when I see signs to a waterfall.




I reach Santiam Junction and get back on route 20 heading back east towards Sisters. I stop to take a few more pictures, the beautiful bronze statue by an office building and the very picturesque US Post Office of Sisters.





I return to Redmond and stop by the Red Dog restaurant for dinner, the cute place has the walls completely covered with dog pictures. I later meet my brother at another restaurant downtown where he was having dinner. We return back to camp and head to the event concert where we stay for a while listening to local bands playing.



Last day in Redmond, a short little ride of 125 miles, the shortest day so far but with a scenic and very twisty piece of road along the Old McKenzie Highway.



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Old 10-18-2010, 05:52 PM   #28
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Day 16 - Redmond - Hailey

With the BMW MOA event over, it was time to start our way back east, we had a lot of ground to cover on the first day. We woke up early on a cold morning, temperature mid 50's, remember that number, more later. I had planned to do about 500 miles or until we got tired whichever came first. With all the BMW riders leaving camp today, the commotion started early with all the packing, we woke up and proceeded to do the same. We cooked a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, packed our camping equipment and said goodbye to the place. Bikers were leaving in all directions and we followed a few out of Redmond.





My plan was to follow route 26 north east through Ochoco National Forest and stop in John Day for a proper sit down breakfast. Leaving Redmond we headed east on Route 126 until Prineville then jumped on route 26 and followed the road north east. The roads in Oregon are beautifully kept offering us beautiful vistas and with very little traffic, we made good time and arrived in John Day before lunchtime. We stop at the Squeeze-in Restaurant and Deck and sit down for a breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries and pancakes. Two cups of coffee later and we were back on the road.





We leave John Day continuing north east. A few miles after we pass Prairie City we round a turn and come upon a giant Conestoga wagon up on the hill, I quickly pull in. The Conestoga wagon serves as a tourist information center and sits on a high hill offering a beautiful view of the Strawberry Mountain range and the John Day River Valley. Someone had taken a few shots at the sign though.







We continue through the Malheur National Forest now heading south east towards Boise, Idaho, passing farms along the way and lots of little towns. We enter Idaho, where nearly one-third of the potatoes grown in the United States come from and continue south entering Interstate 84 near Boise. We are now on the Oregon Trail. We make a stop for gas and a drink and I snap a photo with my phone of one of the famous signs. The temperature in the mid 90's as we stood outside eating ice cream.










We reach Bliss, get off Interstate 84 and head towards Shoshone now following route 26 east again. We pass lots of farms again as we approach Richfield, you can see the irrigation circles on the following satellite picture. We make a stop for gas and to take a break from the heat. Remember the mid 50's when we left Redmond? it is now 105 degrees, we have gone through a 50 degree swing in a single day.








I had looked in the map and decided we would head towards Carey which is just west of Craters of the Moon National Monument, find a motel and spend the night. We pull into Carey, make a stop at the first gas station and were surprise to hear from the clerk that there were no motels in town and the nearest town with a motel was Hailey. We decide to backtrack and head towards Hailey so we could visit Craters of the Moon NM the next morning. As we approach Hailey we pass a small airport and see dozens of small jets on the runway. We continue downtown, find a motel and settle in for the night. I find out from the front desk clerk the town is famous with the rich. Hailey is the site of Friedman Memorial Airport, the airport for the resort area of Sun Valley/Ketchum, 12 miles (19 km) north. Hollywood actors (and former couple) Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have homes in the town as well as other famous people. I spend an hour in the jacuzzi and indoor pool before retiring to bed. We had covered a little over 500 miles and gone through a change of 50 degrees in temperature, we were beat and I quickly fell asleep.





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Old 11-17-2010, 04:35 PM   #29
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Day 17 - Hailey - Jackson

Today I leave Hailey, Idaho, a favorite place with the rich and famous and will be ending the day at another favorite spot of the rich and famous, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Today is also the day my brother and I will split for a while but more on that later. I had calculated about 400 miles and three parks to visit but with stops for photos and sightseeing I knew it was going to be a long day. Since I have lots of beautiful photos I will let them document the trip.
To speed up things we had the complementary breakfast in the motel and hit the road around 8:30 heading south out of Hailey on route 75, the temperature in the mid 60's. We pass large farms with the irrigation systems going full blast, most likely potato fields.



We hit route 20 and go east passing Picabo on the way to Carey, the town with no motels. We quickly pass Carey and continue east towards our first first stop, the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It didn't take long before we started seeing lava rocks, mountains of lava rock right up to the edge of the road.






We approach the entrance and make a stop at the visitor center for information. At an average elevation of 5,900 feet (1,800 m) above sea level, the area's features are volcanic and represent one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. The park encompasses three major lava fields to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles (2,893 km2). All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet (240 m).





We enter the park and make the first stop at the Inferno Cone, a black soil and very rocky hill. I ask my brother to take a few photos as I run to the top but I wasn't thinking, three quarters into it, I was out of breath and had to stop, my heart pounding rapidly, ended up walking the rest of the way. The view at the top is simply breathtaking, you look around and see lava rocks and hills in all directions, my brother thought better and decided to stay at the bottom of the hill.






We move to the next viewing area and that's where I see the most ferocious creature so far on my trip, a hairy caterpillar crossing one of the walkways. I snap a picture as she goes about her business totally unaware of us.





We continue our tour of the park on the narrow road taking our time to admire the rugged landscape and collect a few lava rocks for my daughter. It's amazing to see the pine trees, cedars, junipers, and sagebrush growing in this environment with the constant dry winds and heat-absorbing black lavas that tend to quickly sap water from living things. Summer soil temperatures often exceed 150 °F (66 °C). The air temperature was in the high 90's by now.









We leave the park and make our next stop in Arco for a drink, the temperature in the 90's. Arco was the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated by nuclear power. This occurred on July 17, 1955, powered by a reactor at the nearby "National Reactor Testing Station", which is now the Idaho National Laboratory.



The next 90 miles to Rexburg are mostly deserted, we continue east, traveling great expanses of empty and seemingly endless roads. As we approach Mud Lake we pass a young guy traveling alone by bicycle. We make a stop at a gas station in Mud Lake and a few minutes later while we were hydrating ourselves the young guy pulls in. We strike up a conversation and find out he is traveling from California to Montana where he is going to start a new life. He had all his belongings on the bicycle. Pretty amazing distance to travel by bike. Across from the gas station is the Wayside Cafe, a very old and rundown saloon.







We continue on our way again on seemingly endless roads towards Rexburg were we stop for lunch. A quick sandwich and a soda at a fast food restaurant and we back on the road, now traveling north on route 20 towards the western entrance to Yellowstone NP. We pass the Caldera Lookout, a 72-foot forest service lookout tower and then enter Targhee National Forest.



We finally reach West Yellowstone, a town at the western entrance to Yellowstone, we pull off to take the obligatory picture with the sign.









We enter the park after showing our National Parks pass and make the first stop to walk around some of the famous hot water springs and mud lakes. The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America. It has been termed a "supervolcano" because the caldera was formed by exceptionally large explosive eruptions. The current caldera was created by a cataclysmic eruption that occurred 640,000 years ago, which released 240 cubic miles (1,000 km³) of ash, rock and pyroclastic materials. This eruption was 1,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens (Wikipedia). I had seen lots of pictures before but was still amazed at the color and clarity of the water flowing out of the ground. We walk around the boiling hot mud on walkways, steam billowing out of the cracks and holes in the ground. It's an amazing sight.











We continue and a little later I see the first of many Bison in the park. A truly amazing sight to see these animals roaming around and mostly ignoring the humans.



Our next stop is at the most famous geyser in the park, and perhaps the world, Old Faithful Geyser. Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 U.S. gallons (14–32,000 litre) of boiling water to a height of 106–185 feet (30–56 m) lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 m)(Wikipedia). I sit in between the throngs of people and patiently wait for the next eruption. Intervals between eruptions can range from 45 to 125 minutes, averaging 90 minutes apart today.





About an hour later I get what I came here for, an eruption and I get my photos. It's an amazing experience when all of a sudden you hear the noise and see boiling hot water shoot up into the sky, steam billowing all around. It's all over too fast and the place quickly empties.





This is where my brother and I split, it was getting late and we were tired, he didn't want to continue south to Jackson, so we decided to split, I would continue south and he would go east and spend the night in Cody. I would call him the next day and we would eventually meet in Cooke City, Montana to go through the Beartooth Pass in Montana. I left and headed south stopping at the Continental Divide for a picture of the sign and a little later to take a rest by a waterfall. The roads are beautifully maintained but you do have to contend with the very large campers and RV's.





I continue south stopping again when I reach the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. I get another visitor to take a picture of me with the sign and then continue with the sun quickly disappearing behind the mountains.



I stop at the Jackson Lake to bask in the afternoon sun and soak the beauty of the Grand Tetons. It was so serene, no other soul in sight, I'm all alone in my thoughts. The place is so beautiful and calm, I could hear my heart beat.





I stop later to see the most beautiful sunset, the sun disappearing behind the Grand Tetons. I call my wife and daughter, I wish they were here with me.







I still had a long way to go and I had been warned to be very careful with the elk as they love to sprint across the road. This area is know for the large herds of elk roaming the plains. I travel the next 40 miles between 40 and 45mph, my eyes scanning both sides of the road constantly, my high beam on and the two spot lights illuminating the sides of the road. Cars were passing me but I wasn't going to risk running into an elk.



Along the way I kept looking for camp sites but all I saw were no vacancy signs. I reach Jackson at 10:45 and pass a few motels with no vacancy signs. I start getting worried and pull out the cell phone but after a few calls, all hotels I call are fully booked up. I see what looks like an expensive hotel, pull in and was told by the hotel manager I would not find a room in town but he still had a few, all "honeymoon suites" with jacuzzi. I hesitantly ask how much? what was I supposed to do? sleep on the sidewalk? I quickly charge the room and then was surprised to know all restaurants close at 11PM, it was now 10:58, I had two minutes to run to the corner Wendy's, the manager tells me. I get to Wendy's and the manager is walking to the door key in hand to close the place. She lets me in and I end the night watching TV in the jacuzzi, eating chicken nuggets, fries and a soda. I slept comfortably like a baby on the king size bed.









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Old 11-17-2010, 04:49 PM   #30
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Day 18 - Jackson - Cooke City - Part 1

Jackson, Wyoming, is a beautiful town located in the Jackson Hole valley near the Grand Teton National Park, unfortunately I couldn't spend too much time in town as I had a long way to go north to meet up with my brother in Cooke City, Montana. I got up early and had breakfast in the hotel and hit the road soon after. I wanted to capture the early morning sunrise but by the time I crossed the park the sun was already way up. I made my first stop just a few miles north of Jackson and stood there in awe, letting the beautiful scenery sink in. The Grand Tetons are really majestic.





A few miles up the road I pulled to the side when I saw the most beautiful reflection of the mountains on a nearby lake. The water offering a pretty mirror image of the Grand Tetons.




The road navigates through the National Elk Refuge which is home to an average of 7,500 elk each winter. I stopped again when I saw a large herd of elk grazing on an open field. I'm glad for the 15x zoom on my little camera.




I stopped again near the Jackson Lake to capture one last shot of the Grand Tetons before entering Yellowstone National Park. This area is so vast I could spend a week or longer exploring the large number of trails available in the park.




I entered Yellowstone and made good time towards Yellowstone Lake, quickly passing the odd RV or camper on the road. The road moves along next to a river stream offering beautiful vistas.



I stop again when I see a "Danger" sign warning visitors of unstable ground. The area is located just north of "West Thumb" on the Yellowstone Lake. The danger sign attracted me like a moth to a light. I walked around taking pictures of the boiling water bubbling out of the ground, steam raising from various fissures and the ground cracking under my feet.











I continue north along the Grand Loop Road and a few miles later I come up on a bison leisurely strolling along the middle of the road as if he owned the road completely unperturbed by the traffic around him. I take a picture and quickly pass him taking another picture once I was a few yards in front of him. This was the first encounter of many I would have later with bison.






I stop a little later when I see a sign pointing to the Mud Volcano. It's scary to be walking around knowing that the ground below you is hot enough to make mud boil and bubble, steam raising out of it. I am walking around when I hear rustling sounds nearby, I get near it and I see a big bison rubbing himself on a tree. I later found out they do this to remove the extra fur from their bodies in the summer. There were concrete public restrooms nearby so I was brave enough to get within 15 feet of him knowing that I could sprint into the concrete shelter if needed.






I continue north, the landscape now more open and the road much less congested passing various herds of bison and some amazing rocky scenery.






I pull off to the side of the road when I see another bison grazing nearby. I got close to him but he was on the other side of the guardrail, I jumped the guardrail for the photo. I am not a fool, I would not get near him if I didn't have some protection nearby. Do bison jump guardrails? humm




Further up I see deer jumping around by the river, I quickly get a photo. I take the North East Entrance road, route 212 and start heading east towards the mountains and the border of Montana. I enter the Gallatin National Forest, the ever growing mountains in the background providing a beautiful background.






There is much more to today's trip but I will leave it for another day, I will just say I got stuck behind a very large herd of bison and met my brother in Cooke City almost two hours later than we had planned.
A preview of what was up ahead....



I am at point "B" on the map, about half way through today's trip.

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